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Making Mascarpone

Mascarpone. I’m tempted to say it is the cheese used in cheap ready-meal lasagnes but the British horse meat scandal is probably behind us. Low brow jokes aside, it is a soft Italian cheese and one of those featured in the cheese making kit I got for Christmas. It also turns out to be pretty easy as recipes go.

You take milky cream and heat it, add a solution of weak acid which causes it to curdle and then stain out the whey. The curds which are left behind, without being further squeezed or pressed, are mascarpone cheese, which spreads smoothly and can be combined with other flavourings. This recipe used a mixture of milk and double cream, heated over a bain marie and a small amount of citric acid crystals dissolved in water for the acidulation.

The recipe specified that the cream mixture should be slowly heated to 85-88°C and held there for five minutes but mine (bowl over a saucepan) didn’t seem to be climbing higher than 79°C. I decided to take the risk that the heating was to pasteurise the mixture rather than a particular heat-based change to the milk proteins. With pasteurisation you can either increase heat or time to get the same anti-microbial effect. It seemed to work just fine and, after being left to drain overnight, I transferred it into a pot this morning and used some of it to make a kind of chicken kiev for lunch.

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